Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tongue Drums!

I've been wanting to build a tongue drum for a while now, but I kept putting it off because I knew I would get totally immersed in the music theory details of these little wooden boxes with slits cut in the top.  I saw Steve Ramsey build one and I followed Marc Bublitz's keeks about his experiences with building them, and watching them just fueled my desire to build one.  So I took some time to research, design, and build a few myself and I was right...I did get totally obsessed with these things.

While gathering information about these drums, I noticed a lot of comments in woodworking forum threads like "I would build one but I don't know how to tune it." or "Where is a plan for the tongues?"  So, I set out to produce a video that explains everything you need to know about building tongue drums.

My goals were to make these drums less mysterious and to answer all the questions that were preventing people from getting into the shop and making that first cut.  I hope this video encourages you to get into the shop and make one of these drums.  They are quick and easy to build, fun to play, and they are only as complicated as you want to make them.  No matter what type of wood you use, or whether you tune it or not, you will end up with a nice fun-to-play drum.  If you build one, please contact me and let me know...I'd love to hear about it!


Helpful Tongue Drum Links:
(Search for Bar Length Calculators and Scales using a search engine.)

9 comments:

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  2. I play a number of instruments and Ive recently got into building guitars. I stumbled across the youtube link of building tongue drums. Its a good video and easy to follow. I will be building a tongue drum, following these plans for sure.

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  3. We are doing a research project On tongue drums and noneone can find anything. Where did you research.

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    1. Hi Benjamin - I just googled it and found some info. Above in my blog post, I put links to all of my templates, documents, sites that I gathered and created.

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  4. On the template with wavy look, I think it's the 5th one, how long should the tongues be? Also can you give the notes they each should play??
    Thanks?

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    1. Hi - The tongues on the wavy pattern range from 3 inches to 7.5 inches in half inch increments. I don't know the notes until after I make one, then I just tune to the closest notes wherever they fall. I haven't actually made the wavy one, so one tip I received from someone is to alternate the tongues between large and small so no two similar length tongues are next to each other...apparently the notes would be close to each other and interfere with each other.

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  5. Thanks for the info. The patterns didn't print full size so I've cut them nicely but about 3/4" too short. I'll extend them. Next time I'll alternate sizes as well.

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    1. Ok, yeah, you have to make sure your printer setting is set to Actual Size, instead of Fit to Page or some other option. Also, I think there is a mix of page sizes 11x14 and 11x17 in the PDF since I had access to a large printer.

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  6. Hi! Thanks for the Youtube video - how to make and tune! I've been grabbing used boxes that seemed to have some resonance as is.. in hopes of one day, maybe, stepping over the precipice to make a tongue drum. Your video with comparison of various materials eliminated any nervousness I had. I'm drawing out a pattern now to see what kind of noise comes out. Why not? Thanks again; wonderful, informative video. :)

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